Open Discussion Forum

  • 1.  2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 17 days ago

    Looking for strategies to help us guide a rambunctious 2 year old have been playtime skills.  We realize the concept of sharing doesn't develop until he would be older (5y) -- but also can't let him continually swipe toys out of friends hands.  We have tried helping him pick a toy ... maybe we just need to stick with the training time longer?  Anyone have any other suggestions?

    Nancy Morrison
    Little Promises University

  • 2.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 16 days ago

    A very wise director of a cooperative when my children were students handled this kind of situation that I would not call "stealing" but instead would call "not sharing". Using the word stealing connotes that the two year old is taking toys out of the school.l This director showed me something very skillful way to deal with this kind of situation. When a child would grab a toy from another child, she would say to that child something like, "Joey is playing with that car. When he is finished, he will give it to you." Apparently, to a child, this was sufficient to end the grabbing. What it turned out to be was a power play rather than either child wanting that toy at that moment. The child who had originally been playing with the toy would immediately drop the toy and that would be the end with the other child with whom there was a struggle .

    I don't know if this helps you. But, one thing I would do is be careful in the choice of words to describe what you see. The lens through which you see an incident can color how you solve the problem.

    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ

  • 3.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 14 days ago

    When I was teaching we used "can I have it when you're done?" a lot and we acted out the situation from time to time.  Looking for a similar toy for the "taker" can encourage playing together. "Go get that other airplane and you can fly around the world together."

    Vicki Knauerhase M.Ed.
    Child Development Specialist (retired)
    Weston OH

  • 4.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 13 days ago

    Well, in a  toddlers ego centric 🌎 world, "yours is mine, and mine is mine."validate  the want,not the undeveloped skill. Collectively mentor and role model  with the toddlers for positive outcomes, purposeful active supervision.Support nonverbal with.SEL 

    [Michell Mcgilvery (MS.ed)
    [Trainer,Curriculum Specialists]
    [Fort Campbell KY]

  • 5.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 11 days ago

    Thanks for your comments!  
    Our 2yr room team has been making more effort to help guide him in good free play manners.   He isn't very verbal, but we applaud when he tries!   After feedback from his teacher last year, it seems to be consistent since he was 1 yr old, and his family says the same for his time at home.  We are all working to help him understand some boundaries - give your friend some space…. Let's find the BEST toy (pointing him to the toy shelf).   It's hard to read-set sometime that has been a habit for a while.  It won't happen after one correction or redirection - but will have to be a new better habit!

    Nancy Morrison
    Little Promises University

  • 6.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 12 days ago

    I agree with guiding the child to 1)  ask for a turn and 2) asking to have the toy next when the child is done playing with it. I would add helping the child find something to play with while they wait. Adding duplicates (or more sets) of popular toys can help minimize the impulse to grab another child's toy. You are correct in your assumption that training time will often need to be extended -- children will often grow and regress throughout their early years, so mastery does take time.

    Melanie Burke
    Curriculum Director
    Cranfield Academy of Morrisville

  • 7.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 11 days ago

    Hello Everyone, 

    I often read the questions and comments that are posted within the hello platform, yet I don't leave a comment. My preference is to communicate face-to-face. Therefore, I allow the voices of others who may have a preference to share on an internal community platform.

    The terms "stealing" and "habitually" in the title, had my head turning to the side like a curious puppy. 

    I sincerely agree with all the currently posted suggestions, supporting toddler's developmentally appropriate practices of engagement.

    In all due respect, as previously shared, please understand that words have power and have the potential to help or hurt! As an Advocate for all children and families, it's extremely important that we model the behavior we would like to see in the children. 

    Crystal Sanford-Brown
    Early Childhood Consultant
    Owner of "Emerging Young Leadership, Inc."
    Bloomfield Township, MI
    Immediate Past Vice-President of the Naeyc Governing Board

  • 8.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 10 days ago

    Thank you, Crystal, for your important reframe.  I had this reaction too, as well as to children being labeled "stubborn" in recent posts.   These children are often behaving in ways that are appropriate to their development and/or in reaction to heightened stress.  Negatively labelling them isn't accurate or helpful to them or to their caregivers.  I love the quote from Dr. Stuart Shanker:

    "See a child differently and you see a different child"

    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA

  • 9.  RE: 2 year old stealing toys habitually

    Posted 2 days ago

    It appears that this child may benefit from learning some play skills, to be taught when the problems are NOT happening.  A small group can be gathered and can learn how to take a toy - from a shelf, a bin, etc, (not from another child). The children can learn how to tell when a toy is ready to use or not ready to use.  If it's already being used, it's not ready yet,  This will take time, but habits are slow to break.  The idea is to teach what TO DO, rather than what not to do.

    Also, how to ask for a turn - for a non-verbal child, pointing to the toy and to the self is a way to ask.

    These are play skills that can prevent several of the problems you've outlined.

    And I totally agree with those who zeroed in on adult vocabulary, even just to adults. How we say it is part of how we think it.

    If you want my handout from the NAEYC conference on teaching play skills, please contact me.

    Ellen Cogan, MS Ed - Owner, Chief Consultant - HILLTOP Early Childhood SERVICES
    NYS Early Learning Credentialed Trainer
    NYS Master Cadre, Pyramid Model
    Implementation Planner, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership